1

The important work done by the Fundación DOCOMOMO Ibérico is discussed elsewhere in this blog: Galería Registro DOCOMOMO Ibérico (accessed 15-3-2019).

2

Plan Nacional de Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural del Siglo XX, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Gobierno de España. (accessed 31-3-2019)

 

3

Here it’s interesting to consider the “Noah complex” which, according to Choay, underlies the vulnerability of 20th century architectural and industrial heritage. CHOAY, F. (2007 [1992]) Alegoría del patrimonio, BCN: GG, p.192.

4

One example is the restoration of Antonio Bonet’s La Ricarda by Fernando A. Prozorovich and Jordi Roig. See Tectónica, issue 18, dedicated to rehabilitation, 2005, pp. 62-81.

The Challenges of 20th Century Architectural Heritage

The Challenges of 20th Century Architectural Heritage. Photo: Carolina Castañeda

Despite the unfortunate disappearance of several notable examples of 20th century architectural heritage in recent decades (let’s think back to the demolition of Fisac’s JORBA Laboratories or the not so distant case of Alejandro de la Sota’s Guzmán House), there’s a clear inclination in institutional, academic and professional circles to preserve and disseminate such an important legacy. The effort being made to study and draw attention to 20th century buildings is mirrored in the recent listing of Sáenz de Oiza’s BBVA Tower and Fernando Higueras’s Lucio Muñoz House as Assets of Cultural Interest, in the work of universities and entities like the Fundación DOCOMOMO Ibérico1, the Museo ICO and AEPPAS20, and in the existence of an integral tool like the National Plan for the Conservation of 20th Century Cultural Heritage2.

20th century heritage cannot easily be circumscribed to a series of given features, perhaps because that century was principally characterised by the dynamic, experimental nature and the rapid transformation of its cultural and technical manifestations. Furthermore, it’s a heritage which, for its chronological proximity, includes myriad surviving structures and specific, undefinable features which make us direct witnesses to the existence of cultural assets that have shaped our own recent life experience3.

This specificity, however, is also associated with the challenges and opportunities that arise in the different areas of research into the built heritage of the 20th century, and with regard to its appreciation by future generations. In terms of its material constitution, such heritage poses a specific challenge in the rapid evolution of its building techniques and the experimental nature of many early works. Other problems include the task of adapting its material and spatial constitution to comply with present-day rules and regulations and how to approach its restoration, given that in many cases conceptual innovation was out of step with the building execution process4. Another issue, this time directly related to the physical conservation of 20th century works, is the consideration of this architectural legacy as something that has to be managed: the need to catalogue, protect and create uses compatible with its long-term viability. Here, the institutions and agencies involved will play a crucial role.

Finally, 20th century architectural heritage also has a very interesting cultural dimension, offering great scope for research into the inherent values that will shape how it will be perceived by future generations. The essential tangible legacy of that century of transformation, dynamism and experimentation marked by revolutionary aesthetic language and obsolescent objects will be passed on through the structures we manage to conserve today. For that to happen, it’s necessary to make a contrived effort to ensure the full conservation of 20th century architecture in accordance with agreed methodological criteria. But the task will nevertheless also require the solidarity and commitment of the public administration, academic institutions and specialised professionals, and the involvement of society as a whole, all of which are called to play their role in ensuring that the cultural legacy of our recent history will be safeguarded.


Text translate by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

The important work done by the Fundación DOCOMOMO Ibérico is discussed elsewhere in this blog: Galería Registro DOCOMOMO Ibérico (accessed 15-3-2019).

2

Plan Nacional de Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural del Siglo XX, Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte, Gobierno de España. (accessed 31-3-2019)

 

3

Here it’s interesting to consider the “Noah complex” which, according to Choay, underlies the vulnerability of 20th century architectural and industrial heritage. CHOAY, F. (2007 [1992]) Alegoría del patrimonio, BCN: GG, p.192.

4

One example is the restoration of Antonio Bonet’s La Ricarda by Fernando A. Prozorovich and Jordi Roig. See Tectónica, issue 18, dedicated to rehabilitation, 2005, pp. 62-81.

Autor:
(Gijón, 1984) Doctora Arquitecta formada en la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, la Universidade da Coruña y la Università degli Studi di Ferrara, desarrolla su actividad como investigadora en la ETSAM-UPM en el ámbito del patrimonio cultural. Colaboradora habitual y miembro de INCUNA y TICCIH-España, su actividad más relevante se centra en el estudio y difusión del patrimonio industrial arquitectónico.

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